Kim Roberts and some of her friends were playing an accidental game with a sweet little girl toddling around the local coffee spot in Franklin, Tennessee. Every few minutes, the infectious toddler, with her jet black hair and beautiful tan skin, would stumble over to Kim and her friends. Insistently holding her shoes in the air, as if to say “Pleeeeeaaaasssse,” she would recruit the young women to put her shoes on for her. Married a few years and not yet “ready” for children, Kim enjoyed playing with this girl. She kept on playing, unaware of where or who the little girl’s parents were. It’s pretty standard in the South to entertain children while their parents are across the restaurant, so Kim kept on laughing. When she and her friends heard the joyful warning from across the shop, Kim looked up and recognized Mary Beth Chapman.
“If you keep doing that, she’ll keep coming!” Mary Beth cried out from across the shop. She was laughing, enjoying the charade from across the shop.
Being a Christian music fan, Kim was a little smitten to see the Chapman family. They waved, laughed, and moved on with their days…months…and years. A seemingly insignificant normal interaction.
Five minutes. One kid. Endless giggles.
Kim had no idea how those five minutes with that little girl would continue to intertwine with her life. After all, as Kim said in her blog, “God doesn’t do things like this just because.” Years after that encounter with Shaoey Chapman, Kim, and her husband Brent would find themselves traveling to China with the help of a Show Hope grant to retrieve their son, River.
Since that sweet meeting in the coffee shop, Kim and Brent have been married for 18 years. They have struggled through years of infertility, painful loss, and the beautiful birth of an awesome son, Riley, who Kim affectionately refers to as “Boy Wonder.” After all of the challenges associated with infertility and several discussions with family and friends, their hearts began to break for adoption. Kim recalls that their infertility struggle quickly turned into a process of following God’s will. While they began an adoption process with Ethiopia, they started to feel called to China. The Ethiopian process was proving to have many pitfalls, and when they moved with Brent’s job, they were at a standstill. It was time to update their paper work. Because of the length and challenges presented with the Ethiopian government at the time, the families in the process were offered the option to transfer their paperwork to another country for one time, free of charge. They prayed, discussed, and acted quickly. Kim and Brent began applying for grants, pursuing fund raising, and starting their journey to adopt from China.
They applied for a grant from Show Hope. A nurse for years, Kim was not intimidated by a special needs child, so they put in their request, and after going through several adoption files, they landed on River. Kim really struggled through this process. With each file, she felt the question of, “If we don’t adopt this child, who will?” But, after much comfort through prayer and consideration, they felt at peace with River. As Kim said, “We kinda knew instantly.” A completely infectious, totally precious little boy was to be theirs!
They waited to bring River home to their family for over a year. Upon the eve of their trip, they were anxious and excited to finally meet their little boy. Due to his special needs, River had been staying at Maria’s Big House of Hope to receive much needed medical attention. The Roberts were thrilled at the prospect of adopting him and ready for the opportunity to bring this little guy home.
“We knew he was at Maria’s and that gave us great comfort.” Kim said.
On River’s “Gotchya Day” in China, he was the last little one to arrive with his ayi. He was confused and a little stoic at first. Typically not encouraged by professionals and social workers, the Roberts took River to go visit Maria’s. The kids were happy, cared for, and loved on. Kim and Brent were so thankful to get to see the walls that their son called home for many months. A critical part of his healing and care process, they knew that Maria’s Big House of Hope was a vital piece to River’s story.
Show Hope, along with many other organizations and God-given generosity, was a crucial part to bringing River home.
While his care facility in China was a healthy environment, River still had to adjust to life in his new family with a new brother, and in a strange environment. He mourned the relationships of his ayis. Kim said he would cry each night for about two hours. She felt like that was his own little grieving process. “The first few months, River would just stare into ‘the abyss’ as I called it. He needed to be in the same room as us, touching us to feel safe,” said Kim. “Then, one day, I turned around to talk to him. And he was in the other room, just playing. He was ready. And, since then, he’s really come into his own.” And yes, she is right. River is silly, funny, and just full of life. He wrestles with his brother, he dumps chocolate ice cream on his head, and he “helps” his daddy in the garage. River has become a great little brother to Riley and loving son to his parents.
Brent looked back on the process as a whole, “I was never concerned about the money. I knew God would provide. But when I look back now, the money, the debt, all of it…” He paused as emotions rushed over him, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
It’s clear why River is home.
He is home because Show Hope allowed the Roberts to stretch a little further than they could on their own. They gave them hope.
He is home because the Roberts were obedient in their calling to adopt. The Lord gave them hope.
He is home because we serve a God that is so much bigger, so much greater, than any of us will ever understand. We all have a great hope.
As Emily said, when recalling the various families they’ve helped and the countless kids they’ve witnessed come home, “We just get to watch and be a part of it all.”